(East Los Angeles, CA)—July 23, 2020 [Match Preview]: The stage was set for both the LAFC and their opponent, the Portland Timbers, in this final match of Group F. A win for LAFC would establish them as the outright winner of the group. A tie would still manage to send them forward to the next MLS Is Back tournament phase, or the “Knock-Out” Round.
[Match Recap]: Let’s take a look at the recap of the 36th match on day #16. In the opening period, the Timbers broke out on top with their first goal by Jaroslaw Niezgoda that came quickly at the 7th minute. Then it was LAFC’s turn to draw even when Bradley Wright-Phillips scored on a great midfield lead-pass from Latif Blessing at the 36th minute. Getting into the official scoring book for this third goal in three tournament games was Wright-Phillips. Adding the LAFC’s second tally late in the period was Mark-Anthony Kaye scoring on a fantastic header from the right side of the goal, after setting his sights on a Brian Rodriguez corner-kick. The LAFC then went into the locker room with their first lead of the half in the tournament, (2-1).
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During 2nd-half play, the LAFC dominated in the categories of “shots-on-goal” and “time-of- possession.” The first stat revealed more than a doubling in attempts (19-7), while the all-important time-of-possession favored a (2-1) ratio in advantage. But, those stats only matter after the match, because, at the 81st minute, there was Jeremy Ebobisse, who was perfectly stationed for the header try which flew rapidly into the right side of the net, despite a valiant effort by LAFC goalkeeper Pablo Sisniega who just missed deflecting it. This would be the only time in three tournament games that the LAFC had allowed a goal in the 2nd period. In post game-time tradition, this was the one that was the costliest and mattered the most.
It was also very notable that the intensity of the match was reflected with a number of “Yellow Cards” issued to the Timbers. One of the most obvious was an incident that took place between Portland’s Sebastian Blanco and the LAFC’s Diego Rossi when there was a misstep by the Referee who inadvertently signaled the start of “Live” play. Blanco then sped upfield to possess the sphere, but then slid into an LAFC player cleats first, drawing the anger of his teammates who rushed into the affair. The Timbers’ Diego Chara was given the other “Yellow Card” of the match.
If there was a down side and criticism of the match, LAFC fans might say that it was possibly their team’s combat fatigue due to the weather and the intensity level that sapped their strength and stamina. But, no worries, their beloved team is moving-on to give all loyal fans and Group 3252 another fine day to energetically and passionately cheer them on to victory.
LAFC, now with an MLS Is Back tourney record of (1-0-2) and (2-0-3) on the season, has drawn a formidable foe in the Seattle Sounders FC, (the defending MLS Champion & Runners-up to San Jose/Group B), in a huge match set for Monday, 7/27 at 8 pm PST, on FS1, and TSN. Meanwhile, the Portland Timbers have drawn one of the tournament’s better teams in FC Cincinnati, 2nd place finishers to Columbus/Group E. They square off on Tuesday, 7/28 at 7:30 pm PST, on ESPN/Deportes and TSN.